C K Rajalekshmi – Harikatha Artist


C K Rajalekshmi started Harikatha stage performances during ulsavams at temples,even before the mike reached our small village- Haripad. As she reminiscences, the voice of this 74-year-old reveals a rare depth and her large eyes become expressive. To the accompaniment of mushaang, insidangam and the sonorous harmonium played by the foot, she has narrated stories from the Puranam – stories of joy and sorrow, weakness and valour, pride and strength. Her narration of excerpts from `Bhaktakuchela,’ `Kachadevayani’ and `Bhaktideepika,’ can keep one engrossed, even today.

C.K. Rajalekshmi hails from a talented family in Aranamula. Initially, her maternal uncle gave her music lessons and later her teacher was Arammula Ponnamma. She married the noted mridangist Haripad P.K. Das, who encouraged her to pursue her talents. She has also learned music under the tutelage of the late Ramankutty Bhagavathar and the late Malabar Gopalan Nair (who is M.G. Radhakrishnan’s father). “I tried my hand at acting in dramas, but realised that it was not my cup of tea,” she says. She then pursued Harikatha, accompanied by her mridangist husband.

She has given stage performances all across Kerala, from Malabar to Parasala and even Thuckalay. She won many accolades along the way. Around 35 years ago, she was invited by All India Radio to host a couple of programmes annually, especially to make programmes on family planning.

There were times when Rajalekshmi tried her hand at other things as well, for instance, when she provided vocal support for T.R. Omana’s dance troupe Aryakalanilayam’s `Poothanamoksham.’
Having spent the prime of her live narrating stories from mythology, Rajalekshmi now derives pleasure from another form of narration – writing stories. She proudly holds up the stories she has written. Be it humour or social themes, she has given them all a shot. Some of her stories are `Bhagwatha Parayanam,’ `Siddhartha Rajakumar,’ `Mohavum-Mukthi,’ `Parasuramante Shapam,’ `Vallakaran Varkey,’ `Manushya Nee Mannakunnu’ and so on. She has, however, not published them.